wordsout by godfrey rust
Incarnate  < 9a of 26 >  < christmas >  

A child is born
For five voices: version for one or two voices here

2        Here is a message from our sponsor:

1        Fear not,
          for I bring you good tidings of great joy
          which shall be to you and all mankind

       in this season of goodwill
          which in keeping with our policy of inclusion
          we do not connect explicitly
          with any particular major world religion.

1        Do not be afraid.
3        A little apprehensive, maybe.
          Curious—that works too.
          Even mild interest would be welcome in some    

1        For unto us a child is born.
       So that we can be sure this child will meet your  
          personal needs andexpectations for a Messiah
          please select from the following optional features. 

1        Unto us a son is given.
5        If your preference was for a daughter 
          please complete our alternative Daughter Of God 
          For a gender-free option visit our website.

1        His name shall be
2        (a)  Wonderful Counsellor, Everlasting Father, 
          the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace
3        (b)  Hugo
       (c)  Muhammed
5        (d)  Anything you like as he will be dead soon enough 

1        He will be born in
2        (a)  Bethlehem of Judaea, for you O Bethlehem 
          are not least among the Princes of Judah
3        (b)  Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital*
       (c)  Bethlehem, West Bank
       (d)  a refugee camp far from his family home 

1        His race and colour shall be
2        (a)  Jewish
3        (b)  White Caucasian
4        (c)  something I’d rather not sit next to on a plane
5        (d)  the colour of genocide 

1        He will be born
2        (a) of a virgin
3        (a) to a couple with two incomes and a series of  
           unsatisfactory Croatian au pairs
       (c) with anger and little hope
5        (d) with HIV  

1        You will find the babe
2        (a)  wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger
3        (b) in his nursery with teddy
4        (c) in a house marked with bullet holes
5        (d) in a shallow grave 

1        Wise men will
2        (a)  come from the East
3        (b)  sign him up early for a good prep school or 
           start attending their local Anglican church
4        (c)  regard him as a potential terrorist
       (d)  leave well alone as the region has no oil 

1        They will bring him gifts of
2        (a)  gold, frankincense and myrrh
       (b)  privilege
4        (c)  bombs and rockets
5        (d)  debt, drought and disease  

1        And the government will be
2        (a)  on his shoulders
3        (b)  on his conscience
4        (c)  on his case
       (d)  on vacation somewhere nice 

1        And he will
2        (a)  save his people from their sins
3        (b)  achieve the required A level grades 
           for Oxbridge
       (c)  seek asylum in someone else’s country
       (d)  fight for his life 

1        And he shall
2        (a)  reign on the throne of his father David forever
3        (b)  enjoy a successful portfolio career 
4        (c)  die on a suicide mission
5        (d)  die through neglect  

1        Will you go now to Bethlehem to see this thing 
           which is come to pass?

           Which will you find:
2         (a)  A child in a manger?
3         (b)  A baby born to rule?
4         (c)  A refugee and exile?
5         (d)  A boy born to die too young? 

1        Which is the odd one out?  
2        Trick question.

1        Each is the Christ child—
2        Immanuel, God with us
3        a refugee king
          from a heavenly home. 
4        Born as a bastard
          in occupied country,
5        born to be hated,
          dying alone. 

2        Hope of his father,
3        fear of his mother,
4        driven to exile,
5        pursued to the end. 
24      Trained for his mission,
35      assisted to suicide,
24      trapped by expedience,
35      betrayed by a friend. 

1        Here is the Christ child
12      living among us,
123    God become man
1234  with his power writ small. 
All      Child in a manger,
           infant of Mary,
           outcast and stranger,
           Lord of all.


*insert name of reputable local maternity hospital here. 

Written for the carol service at St John’s, West Ealing in 2004.  A version for one or two voices is here. This version was used at St Johns in 2017. 

Five voices read the lines as numbered. It is more effective if the (a) (b) (c) (d) letters are all read by Voice 1, as indicated by the italics. For example, Voice 1 says: "His race and colour shall be [a]" and Voice 2 then says "Jewish".

When being performed the "multiple choice" section should if possible be projected on a screen using Powerpoint or similar software, with each sentence coming up as it is spoken.

The last four lines are from the carol "Child in the manger" by Mary McDonald (1789-1872). 

Typical performance time 3 minutes 40 seconds.

Godfrey Rust 2004, godfrey@wordsout.co.uk. See here for permissions